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The correct distribution and trafficking of proteins are essential for all organisms. Eukaryotes evolved a sophisticated trafficking system which allows proteins to reach their destination within highly compartmentalized cells. One eukaryotic hallmark is the attachment of a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor to C-terminal ω-peptides, which are used as a zip code to guide a subset of membrane-anchored proteins through the secretory pathway to the plasma membrane. In fungi, the final destination of many GPI-anchored proteins is their outermost compartment, the cell wall. Enzymes of the Dfg5 subfamily catalyze the essential transfer of GPI-anchored substrates from the plasma membrane to the cell wall and discriminate between plasma membrane-resident GPI-anchored proteins and those transferred to the cell wall (GPI-CWP). We solved the structure of Dfg5 from a filamentous fungus and used in crystallo glycan fragment screening to reassemble the GPI-core glycan in a U-shaped conformation within its binding pocket. The resulting model of the membrane-bound Dfg5•GPI-CWP complex is validated by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and in vivo mutants in yeast. The latter show that impaired transfer of GPI-CWPs causes distorted cell-wall integrity as indicated by increased chitin levels. The structure of a Dfg5•β1,3-glycoside complex predicts transfer of GPI-CWP toward the nonreducing ends of acceptor glycans in the cell wall. In addition to our molecular model for Dfg5-mediated transglycosylation, we provide a rationale for how GPI-CWPs are specifically sorted toward the cell wall by using GPI-core glycan modifications.


Marian Samuel Vogt, Gesa Felicitas Schmitz, Daniel Varón Silva, Hans-Ulrich Mösch, Lars-Oliver Essen. Structural base for the transfer of GPI-anchored glycoproteins into fungal cell walls. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2020 Sep 08;117(36):22061-22067

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PMID: 32839341

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